UAE malls to operate food courts in Ramadan
Dubai: Soon, it will be Ramadan and shopping tourists and newly arrived expatriates in UAE will find that most dining venues shut their doors from sunrise to sunset, out of respect for those who are fasting.
However, the majority of Dubai’s large shopping malls will have some of their food and beverage outlets operating during daylight hours throughout the holy month, it has been confirmed.
Mall operators said food service will be available from 12 noon onwards, although some outlets may start catering to takeaway customers from 10am. Diners, however, will still be served behind partitions and covered windows, and the service will be mostly limited to common dining areas or food courts.
According to analysts, more and more business owners are making their food and beverage outlets available to non-Muslims during Ramadan, especially since tourists are still coming in droves even during the fasting month. Many businesses also need to keep the money coming in all day.
“The overall growth [in the food service industry] has been slow during the past year and also continues to slag this year, which can be the main motivator to keep the outlets open and cater to the demand that exists from non-fasting residents and tourists,” Rabia Yasmeen, analyst at Euromonitor International, told Gulf News.
“Many players are facing operational challenges, maintaining the margins is getting tough as food service is getting saturated and they need to keep revenue streams going in current market conditions.”
Shoppers, however, should keep in mind that eating, drinking and smoking in public are still prohibited and they’re best advised to observe proper etiquette during the holy month.
Malls with operating food courts, restaurants
Retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) confirmed that several of its malls in Dubai will be serving up food to customers behind doors before sunset throughout the fasting period.
Mall of the Emirates
At Mall of the Emirates (MoE), the food court will start accepting diners from 12 noon onwards, although customers can start ordering takeaways from 10am. There are restaurants that will be available during the day, including St. Tropez, Salmontini, Apres, Karam Beirut and Din Tai Fung.
City Centre Deira
At City Centre Deira and other community and neighbourhood malls operated by MAF, food courts will be available from 12 noon.
Festival City Mall
Close to 40 dining options will be operating during the day as well in Dubai Festival City Mall. Among those that will be serving food behind partitions are Ikea Café (Bistro Café) and Restaurant, Costa Coffee, Marks & Spencer and Café, Pizza Hut, KFC, Hardees, Magic Wok, Chinese Palace, Wendy’s, among many others.
However, Majid Al Futtaim’s malls in the neighbouring emirates, such as City Centre Sharjah, City Centre Ajman and City Centre Fujairah will abide by municipality directives to keep food and beverage outlets closed until Iftar time.
Nakheel, the operator of Ibn Battuta Mall and Dragon Mart, will have some dining venues operating as well.
Outside the malls, a number of restaraunts will also be available to diners during Ramadan.
The change in food consumption during Ramadan does affect merchants’ daytime sales, but a surge in demand during Iftar and Suhoor tends to make up for the shortfall.
“While restaurants close during the day, the Iftar and Suhoor offers or meals are very popular among the consumers and many consumers tend to gather in larger groups for Iftar in restaurants,” said Rabia.
“While average number of transactions decline during the day, the value of sales after Iftar tends to increase on account of increased number of consumers for din-in experienced.